In Trump-Acosta Flap, New Controversy Over Video

Critics say White House version is 'distorted' to make it seem worse; defenders disagree
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2018 8:33 AM CST

The White House has yanked the press credentials of CNN's Jim Acosta, accusing the correspondent of "placing his hands on a young woman" trying to take away his microphone as he questioned the president. Acosta calls that a "lie." Now a related controversy has emerged regarding video of the incident, with critics accusing the White House of releasing a "doctored" version. Details on that and related developments:

  • The incident: As Acosta presses Trump Wednesday about his language regarding the migrant caravan, a White House intern attempts to take away his mic, but he keeps it. Watch the video, as filmed by Time, here.
  • White House video: Sarah Sanders tweeted this video of the incident, adding, "We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video."

  • Different speed: As Business Insider notes, the video tweeted by Sanders appears to be the same one released by the controversial InfoWars. In BI's view, the "doctored" video "slows down the intern's approach and speeds up Acosta's arm movement, making the moment appear more violent." CNN media writer Brian Stelter agrees. "Where'd you obtain the distorted @Acosta video you posted?" he asked Sanders on Twitter. "Surely you don't trust InfoWars...?"
  • A denial: Paul Joseph Watson, the InfoWars editor who put out the controversial clip, denies doctoring it. Buzzfeed takes a lengthy look at the debate, including the technical nitty gritty involved. One key paragraph from Charlie Warzel: "There's no evidence that the video was deliberately sped up—but the change in format, from a high-quality video to a low-quality GIF, turns the question of whether it was 'doctored' into a semantic debate."
  • Another take: At the Federalist, Bre Payton also rejects the "doctored" characterization. "The video Sanders tweeted had been slowed down to show the incident in greater detail, but it did not invent or make up the part where Acosta’s arm comes into contact with the intern's," she writes. The bottom line is that "while it doesn’t appear that he used enough force to have injured her, it’s clear he was acting boorish and using his body in a way that he probably would not have if that White House intern were male."
  • Acosta v. Trump: The Washington Post traces the animosity between the reporter and Trump, recounting previous public clashes, including the first in May 2016 and another in Cuba. "Depending on your political stripes, (Wednesday's) move was either a dangerous attack on the First Amendment, or a showboating reporter's comeuppance," writes Kyle Swenson.
  • Dream come true? A post at Axios reports that Trump has privately talked about barring reporters who anger him since he first became president, but he was always talked out of it by aides. That changed Wednesday. Trump has previously acknowledged that his clashes with the mainstream press play well with his supporters.
  • Back and forth: Fellow journalists expressed outrage at the White House move, and Mediaite has examples. Sanders issued a series of tweets defending the decision and responding to CNN's defense of Acosta. "The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it's an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration," she wrote. TVNewser has more of the back-and-forth.
(Acosta also once memorably clashed with Trump aide Stephen Miller.)

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